Contraband Camps

Barbara Brooks Tomblin

in Bluejackets and Contrabands

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780813125541
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135311 | DOI:
Contraband Camps

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Union operations along the southern coast in 1861 created opportunities for hundreds of slaves to seek freedom either on Union ships or in areas occupied by Union forces. When General Thomas W. Sherman's men occupied Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861, Hilton Head Island and Beaufort became refuges for hundreds of contrabands, who joined the thousands of slaves abandoned at Port Royal and the nearby Sea Islands by their white owners. Now, in effect, free, these former slaves soon became the responsibility of the government. Sherman's quartermasters also needed laborers to build roads, erect warehouses and other buildings, and construct defenses. To shelter and provide for these former slaves, Sherman ordered temporary “contraband camps” set up at Beaufort and on Hilton Head for those now employed as laborers for the Union, and he assigned responsibility for them to the chief quartermaster, Captain Rufus Saxton.

Keywords: Thomas W. Sherman; Port Royal; Hilton Head; Beaufort; contrabands; slaves; contraband camps; Union; Rufus Saxton

Chapter.  16216 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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